L’occasione fa il ladro

L’occasione fa il ladro is a rather typical early Rossini piece (he was only nineteen when he wrote it).  The plot is extremely silly but it’s quite short (90 minutes) and the music is tuneful and well crafted.  To cut a short story even shorter, Count Alberto is off to collect his bride, Berenice, who he has never seen.  On the way his luggage gets mixed up with that of the chancer Don Parmenione, who decides t take the opportunity to grab the bride for himself.  Meanwhile Berenice has swapped places with her maid Ernestina so she can check Alberto out at a safe distance.  Inevitably confusion ensues but it all ends happily with Alberto paired off with Berenice and Parmenio with Ernestina, who, of course, is not really a maid at all.

Jochen Schönleber’s 2017 production at the 2017 Wildbad Rossini Festival is pretty straightforward, though there might just be a twist at the end.  Basically the central pair of Alberto and Berenice are allowed to do the standard tenor/soprano romcom thing while the other characters buffo it up around them in a fairly broad fashion.  It works because both Kenneth Tarver and Vera talerko are charming.  They both sing beautifully and can manage anything that Rossini throws at them which, of course, involves tenor high notes and coloratura for the soprano.  They also act convincingly and are easy on the eye.  Lorenzo Regazzo (Parmenione) is a classic, and very broad, buffo bass and there’s more clowning from his servant Martino, sung by Robertoi Maietta.  Patrick Kabongo, as Berenice’s uncle/guardian and Giada Frasconi round out a very adequate cast.  The Virtuosi Brunensis, effectively the Naxos label’s house Rossini band, are in the pit and sound idiomatic.  Antonino Fogliani conducts efficiently.

Video direction is by Philippe Ohl.  It’s straightforward enough as one would expect with a small cast on the very small Wildbad stage.  On Blu-ray the picture is fine and so is the PCM stereo sound.  There’s no surround option.  There are no extras but the booklet contains a detailed track listing, a synopsis and an essay.  Subtitle options are Italian, English, French, German, Korean and Japanese.

So, an enjoyable enough piece of Rossini fluff well executed in all departments.

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